I started to search for effective Studying Techniques when I was a student because many times faced the problem of forgetting what I had studied. As I sometimes failed on exams, I was curious about the cause of this problem. The problem was that I had never been taught how to study adequately.
My efforts were not enough to learn and understand the reading material, so I never memorized it. What I had to do was to adopt new and better study techniques that we will see here.
In this page, I am going to explain you two of my favorite studying techniques. But, let’s talk first about why my traditional studying method failed so many times.
Traditional Studying = Failure
You know, the traditional way of studying is to read the material and then reread it until to memorize it. Read it as many times you can and you are ready to go. This old-fashioned way of studying is based on repetition.
The bad thing about it is that you can learn something that you cannot understand. We all know that as parroting.
You may remember what you have read, but you may also not understand the concepts and the meanings.
No emotional connection with the memorized material is a one-way ticket to oblivion.
The traditional studying method is useful for learning sentences exactly the way you see them, irrespective of whether you get the meaning or not.
One thing is certain when you study like that; you will forget eventually nearly everything of what you read. The worst case scenario is to misremember in the middle of an exam, which is a typical scenario.
The first of the two studying techniques will help you to deal with the incomprehensible material. You need to understand what you read to learn it. Or else you are just parroting.
Tip 1: Try to Fully Understand the Material
When you read for the first time, point out the meanings you don’t get. Next, figure out what you miss. Make your research, ask a friend, search the Internet, check another book, do whatever it takes to understand what you read.
As you understand the material fully, then go for a second reading. The second reading will help your mind to set up the basic concepts and meanings that you have to remember.
And here comes the second studying tip.
Tip 2: Create Situational Questions and Answer them
Identify the important meanings and concepts and create questions. These questions have to involve your emotions and feelings so to be effective.
They must be situational questions. These will induce the mind to create a hypothetical situation when you have to take action, according to the information you just learned.
When you live an experience with emotions and feelings, you store it in the long-term memory. You just need to connect the experience with the new knowledge.
But be careful, this technique has to be repeated for two or three days or more. Instead of rereading your highlighted material critical points, answer the list of the situational questions that you have created, during the second reading.
This technique is far more efficient and quick than rereading highlighted points of a text.
Let’s see an example of this studying technique.
Let’s assume that you have to learn the following procedure in a working environment.
“Company’s security regulations require that employee will respond immediately to any alarm indication, following the typical procedure. Alarm light colors vary to distinguish the severity of the situation. High severity alarm colors are red and orange indicating a critical and a major condition respectively that need to be resolved asap. Medium severity alarm colors are dark blue and light blue indicating a medium impact situation. Low severity colors are green and yellow indicating warnings.
According to the situation’s severity status, the employee has to press the appropriate alarm button which is associated with the severity of the corresponding situation. Alarm buttons A,B and C, are associated with High, Medium and Low severity alarms respectively.”
Let’s see how we would form a situational question to remember important information. First of all, we have to identify the critical parts of the procedure.
o There’s an alarm light that indicates the present status.
o There are three severity zones, and each one contains two color codes.
o I must know every color’s severity group in order to press the correct button.
The Situational Question that Contains all the Important Information
We can form a fill-the-gap question like the following one:
“You are in the middle of a night shift when suddenly a loud abnormal sound occurs. Your judgment says that the severity is high, and you wait for ____ or ____ alarm color to press button ___ .Finally, alarm light color is yellow indicating a ___ severity.”
The above is a complex situational question where your mind has to recreate this experience and actively think what to do in this hypothetical scenario. Answering this question can help you absorb all the valuable information. Do you see how?
In the first two gaps, the correct answers are “red” and “orange”. Now you know the most important part, which is to identify high severity situations. Finally, the alarm color is yellow and in this point you have to complete the severity that is low.
So, you know low severity and high severity colors. Medium severity colors are not involved in the question but are easy to remember as they are light and dark blue.
The last color remaining is the green, which is the closest to yellow and also the standard color code for normal operation (it is easy to associate it with low severity situations or normal conditions).
All the Important Info in Just a Simple Question
Now, you may see why these questions are called situational. They induce your mind to create the hypothetical situation, which need to be resolved, by making usage of the knowledge you just acquired. Such questions make this studying technique powerful.
I used the above studying techniques and I can confirm that they work. Another advantage is that you understand fully the material you read. You absorb the material, not just parroting it. You know all the “whats” and “whys.”
Unfortunately, these studying techniques are not recommended for practical lessons containing lots of math formulas. But, for more theoretical lessons these study tips combined with mind mapping do wonders for your learning and understanding.